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Alfie Brown: The Revolting Youth

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Steve Bennett

Last year, Alfie Brown ramped up his comedy several gears with an intense, caustic hour of comedy in which he yomped to the intellectual high ground from where he spat vitriol at the state of culture in general and comedy in particular. It wasn’t always a comfortable polemic but it was audaciously provocative, and grabbed the attention of critics.

Twelve months and one wedding ring later and he’s mellowed... slightly. This is another vehemently opinionated hour, but now he’s keener to charm the audience on-side than bow them into submission with the sheer passion of his anger. His overall outlook on the state of humanity is still pretty bleak – he seems to think that’s the only viable conclusion after seeing how appallingly the world operates – but has packaged that message up in gags that are as smart as they are funny.

The unfettered greed of capitalism is his chief bugbear. From his soapbox he spouts wittily about bankers’ bonuses and about a culture that instils avarice in the very young and exploits the slightly older through the slavery of internships. In other news, the global $170billion-a-year cosmetics industry could vanish overnight if women decided they just didn’t need it, as men have.

But lest you think he’s a some woolly liberal, his solution to all ills is a dictatorship. We’re clearly all idiots and need a no-nonsense figure like, oh, I don’t know... him? to show us the way. Yep, he’s another comic with megalomaniac qualities.

While he doesn’t much like living in a world like this one; the alternative is worse. He’s petrified of death, and considers everything he does, all these rabid thoughts, a distraction to silence the fear niggling in his brain.

He has an insightful honesty and jam-packs many more ideas into this wide-ranging hour, from Facebook to the pack mentality. He challenges this latter notion by joining us in the audience, making a valid point with a neat trick of performance. But as he’s forced to concede, the energy of the show is never quite the same afterwards.

That’s unfortunate, as he’d previously won us over by rolling with the strange punches the audience, and all the late arrivals, had thrown at him. He can work in the moment, turning on the charisma, as easily as he can deliver his well-rehearsed diatribe.

That hiccup aside, Brown has taken another purposeful stride forward this year, and has all the potential to be one of this country’s best comics: perceptive, provocative, political, and playful. And most of all, damn funny.

Review date: 8 Aug 2013
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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